Rolex watches has become widely popular over the last decades. Although usually defined as a symbol of status, these timepieces are known for their exemplary world-class quality backed by multiple innovations and are also seen as a source of investment. In our 12 years of experience of providing appraisals of Rolex watches, we really seen the market expand and the community of collectors grow. Now Value My Stuff compiled a guide to help you get started on collecting Rolex watches.
Rolex history has become a story of innovation in technology and design, and the company has been awarded many accolades through the years. Founded by a German businessman and entrepreneur Hans Wilsdorf in 1914, it was set to be a luxurious, high quality and innovative brand from the beginning. Apart from Rolex, Wilsdorf also founded another great timepiece brand, Tudor.
The vision of the company was captured in one of Wilsdorf quotes, already in 1914, he wrote: "My personal opinion ... is that pocket watches will almost completely disappear and that wrist watches will replace them definitively! I am not mistaken in this opinion and you will see that I am right".
In 1925 Rolex added the crown symbol to its watches, and in 1926 they added the name Rolex to each dial. In 1926 Wilsdorf registered the patent for the first Rolex Oyster, a waterproof cased watch. Soon after, Rolex introduced the next innovation: a system for automatic winding followed by a system for self winding. In 1934 Rolex was awarded class certificates from Kew, Geneva, Neuchatel and Besancon observatories.
"My personal opinion ... is that pocket watches will almost completely disappear and that wrist watches will replace them definitively! I am not mistaken in this opinion and you will see that I am right".
In 1945 the Rolex company introduced the first automatic date mechanism in a wrist watch called DateJust.
In 1953 the Rolex company introduced the Rolex Explorer, and in 1954 the Rolex Submariner, as well as the GMT. In 1960 new innovations were released and the first Cosmograph chronograph was added to the different Rolex models, as well as a Deep Sea Special. From the 1970s to today, Rolex has persisted in developing new technology and has produced for instance the Paracrom hairspring and the Paraflex shock absorbers.
Related: Learn About Rolex Watches
Over the years Rolex, like other watchmaker brands, developed a unique terminology assigned to their watches. Knowing Rolex special terms and abbreviations is really helpful for the collectors and brand lovers for identifying specific models or innovations that describe Rolexes. These are also quite helpful when you end up in a conversations about high end watches.
You probably know about the Rolex collections of Submariner, water-resistance watches, that were designed for divers and people of the sea (See the previous image). Sub is a shorter version of that name that many collectors will use instead.
There are four types of unique bracelets that are used by Rolex brands and are often linked with specific collections. If you hear about Oyster, Jubilee, President or Pearlmaster bracelets, you know what they are talking about.
Each Rolex bracelet has also various types of links. Solid Links are the ones that connect the bracelet to the watch while End Link connects to the watch case.
Cerachrome is the process patented by Rolex, during which a very resilient and virtually scratch-proof ceramic bezel is created. The material of which it is made is called cerachrom.
Cyclops describes a distorted drops of glass which enables the magnification of the date in Rolex watches. Although this feature it is used by the other brands, it was Rolex that came up with it.
The price of a Rolex watch vary widely depending on several things, such as its age, model, series and heritage. Usually the prices of a new Rolex watches, bought from an authorised Rolex store range from $6,000 to $75,000 USD, but some of the timepieces from limited lines or customised can be priced over $100,000. Those prices may be very overwhelming, especially for the new collectors or those who would like to invest in an high end watch without spending a fortune. For those who would like to own a newer yet less expensive Rolex model, it is good to look at the Rolex Datejust collection.
Rolex watches age really well, as the materials they are made of and patented innovations assure their longevity. The prices of pre-owned timepieces on a second-hand market usually range from $3,500 to $100,000+ USD.
Related: How to value watches?
"For those who would like to own a newer yet less expensive Rolex model, it is good to look at the Rolex Datejust collection."
The most expensive Rolex watch ever sold on the auction, belonged to the actor and motorsports racer Paul Newman. A Cosmograph Daytona Rolex watch was presented to him by his wife JOanne Woodward in 1968. It was sold at Phillips New York in 2017 for $17.75 million USD!
This Rolex was made in 1970 and featured a black dial, white gold chronograph and a bracelet with bark finish. It was sold by Phillips Geneva in 2017 for staggering $5.9 million USD!
This Rolex was comissioned and made for the last Vietnameese emperor Bao Dai, while on a business trip in Geneva in 1954. It featured black dial with diamond indexes and the case and bracelet in yellow gold. It sold in Phillips auction in Geneva in 2017 for $5 million USD.
This watch belonged to a very limited series of 12 timepieces made of stainless steel. It was also one of the oldest examples of Rolex watches that was auctioned. It was sold by Phillis in 2018 for €2.5 million USD.
When buying a Rolex watch you should always take a several things to the account. No matter if you are already a seasoned Rolex watch collector or just starting your journey with a Rolex brand it is always good to consider your lifestyle, budget and professional expertise.
1. Your Lifestyle
While senior collectors may know exactly what they are looking for, this can be hard for someone who just want to start investing in Rolex watches. You should asses your needs when it comes to the watch and select a collection that just fits you right. Would you like a watch that is a statement luxury piece or the one that also fits your active lifestyle? Make sure you pick the model that aligns with your nature.
2. Your Budget
It is very important to wisely consider a budget for your watch and avoid impulse purchases. Before you make a final decision make sure that the value for your watch is comparable with others of the same range and model available on the market. It is also wise to consider and check the resale value, as some Rolex models and series are more desirable by collectors than others.
3. Professional Expertise
Whether you collect Rolex watches or any other watches it is always good to get help from a professional expert. you can use Value My Stuff appraisal not only to check what your current watches are worth but also to get guidance from one of ours experienced watch experts before purchasing a watch at the auction or from a dealer. It is advisable to regularly check your watch es value in case you would like to sell them or to check their current worth.
There are several things to look at and check when buying a new or vintage Rolex watch but here are three things you should always take under the loop, whenever you examine your first or next addition to your Rolex watch collection: authenticity, age of dial and the condition of the dial.
In models such as the Daytona chronographs, authenticity is the first thing to confirm. The dial needs a very in depth examination. First and foremost, it can be useful to verify the logo and inscriptions on the dial and verify whether the logo and text has been applied or printed.
2. Age of the dial
“Service parts” or replacements parts, must have the approval of Rolex to be considered authentic. If the watch contains service parts, the watch may value less, so it is important to check that the dial is authentic to the watch’s age. At this point you have to check the "lume" of the dial, in different years different luminous materials were used:
- Until 1960 radium was used
- Until 1998 tritium was used
- Between 1998-1999 luminova was used
3. Condition of the dial
In a vintage Rolex the dial is the part of the watch that gives value to the watch. Rare dials determine very high prices compared to those that are more common.
Taking into account all the information and tips above, you have to be careful when buying your Rolex today. There are lots of fake Rolex in the market. Nowadays even the certificates and purchase receipts can be forged so it is always a good idea to take some extra precautions that will help you spot a fake Rolex from an original one.
These are just some of the precautions to follow and for this reason, as mentioned above it could be a good idea to consult one of Value My Stuff's experienced experts to get an opinion on the originality of a Rolex and its value.